"The Squad," comprised of progressive congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Ayanna Pressley (MA), could soon become a thing of the past.
As we head into 2021, legislators are preparing for President-elect Joe Biden and new members of Congress to join them in a few short weeks. Once the make-up in Washington, D.C. changes, the allies – and their dynamics – are likely to shift as well.
"The Squad" had a large presence over the last two years because they were united in their hatred of President Trump and everything he stood for. They were considered a contrast to his policies and perspectives. Now that Biden is set to take control of the Oval Office, the animosity disappears and the policy differences aren't as clear.
“I think the idea of ‘The Squad’ is going to go away, and I think that it is going to be fascinating to see how [AOC] shares the spotlight of progressivism,” a senior staffer on Capitol Hill told The New York Post. “The idea of ‘The Squad’ — as ‘The Squad’ — may really shift and change and you might see cleavages there because the pressures and interests wont be as unified as they were under Trump."
There are also a handful of new faces that will be joining the House in January. One of them, AOC's colleague from New York, Ritchie Torres, said he refused to join the group because of their anti-Israel stance.
“I came to observe that there are activists who have a visceral hatred for Israel as though it were the root of all evil,” Torres said earlier this month. “The act of singling out Israel as BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement] has done is the definition of discrimination.”
Congressman-elect Jamaal Brown has aligned himself with "The Squad" but he is likely to take the spotlight away from the rest of the group, in large part because he has already made some outlandish remarks. Last week, for example, he compared capitalism to slavery.
“I believe our current system of capitalism is slavery by another name. We’ve moved from physical chattel enslavement and physical racial segregation to a plantation economic system,” Brown explained. “One that keeps the majority of Americans unemployed, or underemployed and struggling just to survive, while the power elite continues to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few, and allow large corporations to pretty much run the world as multinational corporations.”
Another progressive, Mondaire Jones, is the first openly gay black member of Congress, meaning he too could steal the spotlight.
The other problem "The Squad" faces is a lack of unity. AOC received the Wuhan coronavirus vaccine and filmed her experience on Instagram Live as a way of encouraging her followers to do the same. Omar, on the other hand, said frontline health care workers and the elderly should be receiving the vaccine before members of Congress. It was considered a blow to AOC to have one of her closest colleagues slam the move.